Issues with Landlord

Hi All,

I recently leased out a former restaurant. I did a walk through when the former restaurant was still in operation and saw standing water in the kitchen and stock room by the floor drain.

I expressed my concerns with the Landlord and after a lot of give and take I finally got him to guarantee the plumbing for three months.

Low and behold the grease trap has issues, and the plumbing is not functioning properly even after having the drain cleaned.

Also, there are issues with the grease trap the city told us we will have to replace it and possibly dig and replace piping. The landlord now tells me that all the issues stem from the grease trap therefore he is not liable. A simple Wikipedia search states that the grease trap is a plumbing device. He told me grease is not plumbing.

The bills are racking up and from what I see my only recourse is to sue the Landlord. I brought this all up to him and he told me that he will try to get the former tenant to fix the issues. He will not pay no matter what and he expects his rent.

I have not been able to sleep more than an hour or two all this week. Just looking for some opinions. Thanks.

Have you had the interceptor pumped?

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What is the problem with the trap?

Is the concrete breaking up/buckling?

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Hey Pizza Pirates,

Yes, I did. The grease trap is outside behind the building. Now we have water flowing out in the parking lot from the grease trap cover. That happened only after we had it pumped and the sewer plumbing lines cleaned. Mind you the landlord paid for the sewer lines I paid to pump the grease trap. The guy that cleaned out the grease trap told me it had been a long time since it was emptied. Mind you I am outside of Chicago and the weather is in the 100’s this week.

It sounds like it has a backup out past the interceptor.

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Rob, I brought in a plumber this week he told me that if I am lucky it will be 20k if not upwards towards 50k. Needless to say I was numb when I heard that. He told me he thinks they will have to dig in the building and outside. He put a camera in the line but did not find the cause. The building is close to 100 years old.

That’s bad. You probably have a collapsed line out there. I’ve had that happen both inside the store and just outside. Inside I paid. 10k. Outside the landlord paid. Yours may be the cities line.

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Find out how old the trap is.

I just had mine inspected by the county and sweated bullets when they came. I’m told they last 20 years(concrete)

They recommended a sewer jet once a year .

Grease traps runabout 20 grand.
Whoever pumps your trap can most likely point you in the right direction.

Also , are there state/county laws on maintenance for them? Mine doesn’t mess around. ($1000 fine if you don’t pump )

PP, you might be right. I know you and Rob are not attorneys but would you not come to the conclusion that my guarantee on plumbing make the Landlord liable? My lawyer is on vacation and I have to pay 8k a month in rent starting in August. I expected to be open by then now that is wishful thinking. This past week I have been sick to my stomach over this.

Rob, the Landlord claims that it is 30 yrs old.

Hang in there. It may be the city’s issue if it’s down line. If all you need is a new interceptor I seriously doubt it would be 50k. Putting one in from scratch is 20k. The unit itself is around 7k.

The biggest issue would be time.

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You need to find where the problem is along the lines. Like pp said, it might be city problem. If you got the landlord to guarantee the plumbing , you need to speak to your attorney.

If you don’t mind me asking, how much are you into this for? Can you walk?

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I’m in too deep to walk. I signed a 5 yr personal guarantee. The location is prime. I honestly did not think I would lease it out but somehow the stars aligned. There are more qualified tenants out there for this type of location. The Landlord and I hit it off and he told me I chose you over more qualified tenants I like you personally and you make me believe in you. I have purchased the equipment, chairs, paid for signs pos etc… I have spent all of my money and borrowed from family. I was within budget before this transpired.

  1. Contact your attorney.

Some things that occur to me:

A. If the problem is not INSIDE your leased premises it is not your problem. Unless your lease is very unusual, your responsibility ends where the service penetrates the wall.
B. If the property was not delivered in condition where it would be legal to open for business the landlord has problems. This is not about your plumbing warranty. It predates that and it about implied fitness for the use offered.
C. Most (but not all) leases differentiate between maintenance and replacement. Maintenance issues being a tenant responsibility, replacement being LL. This leads to some things being repaired forever but it is a point worth looking at.

I hesitate to ask… but did you have the assistance of an attorney and/or knowledgeable commercial broker when you did the lease?

  1. Contact your attorney.

$8,000 per month? Wow! Holy Shi!. This place is either huge or you are in a very high rent district. I assume your business plan calls for $1,000,000 in annual sales?

If you are already “all in” that implies that there is not a lot left for your LL to after if you default. A game of chicken might be in order.

  1. Contact your attorney.

Oh yes… BTW, you are correct. Zero doubt that the grease trap is part of the plumbing. Absurd to claim it is not. Your attorney can help straighten this out. Call him or her.

Hi bodegahwy,

My attorney outlined the changes required in the lease and I negotiated them. A few things did get watered down because the Landlord stood his ground. He did not want to guarantee the plumbing but I told him it was a deal breaker if he didnt.

The location has 80 seats and sits on a prime corner. The former tenant moved to a larger space he built out from a white box. It was a Mexican restaurant and it was packed during prime times and busy during downtimes. Lots of carry outs as well.

I thought there was no doubt that the grease trap was a part of the plumbing. The landlord and I spoke today he insisted that the grease trap, is not a part of the plumbing. I had text him and emailed him proof from Wikipedia and other sources online that the grease trap is a part of the plumbing, he told me he spoke to a master plumber and was told it is not. He states that the previous tenant might be liable because he had to maintain the premises and leave everything in working condition according to his lease with him. He then told me look, I will try to help you out by trying to get the former tenant to make the repairs. Basically, he is weasling out with an excuse.

I finally got some sleep my body gave out and I slept for a good 10 hours. Thanks for all of the advice and coming to the same conclusion as myself when it comes to the landlords responsibility when it comes to the grease trap. I sure as hell needed some reassuring words. I have kept this all bottled up this week and have not told family. I did not want to worry anyone but they noticed I wasn’t myself.

Haha! I suppose that it wasn’t a plumber that installed it? Not. Here is the Illinois building code regarding grease traps and interceptors: (Note the title which includes “Illinois Plumbing Code”)

(I can’t get the link to work. Just cut and paste it into your browser)

What that LL says a plumber thinks has exactly ZERO to do with it. This will be a matter of law if it comes to that. The grease trap is a part of the system that handles waste WATER from the premises and is as much a part of the plumbing as the elbow joint below every sink.

My guess is that your attorney will tell you it is the LL’s responsibility. If he can go back on the previous tenant that is up to him.

You should speak to your attorney before you send that rent check!

Lol. He layed it on thick with the “master plumber”. It felt great to post on here and get some reassurance that he is in the wrong. Today, I have been painting outside while it is a cool 85 before those 100 degrees days come back. I feel less stressed. My attorney emailed me back that he will see me next Monday. I also called my friends attorney he told me I can come in next Monday as well. He is booked today then off to Michigan. Everyone is busy or vacationing.

Bodegahwy thanks for taking the time to respond. PizzaPirates and Rob thanks as well.

Have a good week fellas and if anyone has more thoughts please post.

Prodigy ,

Let us know how you make out . I cringe when I hear major problems like this for someone who is all in.

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Grease trap is part of the plumbing,
It is independent object like a valve, tap or a pressure gauge but when it connects to plumbing it becomes part of it…imho
i will fight with LL. your job is to maintain it while you leased the premises.